Wimbledon RFC 1XV 20 v Tunbridge Wells 17
A win for Wimbledon at last. And a deserved win too, with the bonus point for four tries just about keeping alive their slim hopes of avoiding relegation.
But they made very hard work of the match on Saturday (March 5), gifting Tunbridge Wells two tries when their centre O’Leary gratefully accepted an interception and a dropped pass to run in under the posts, making it easy for his no.9, Claridge, to convert both.
On top of that, Dons' insistence in the first half on trying to run everything, even from their own 22, often resulted in the visitor’s gaining more territory and possession than they deserved.
With the amount of ball won by the forwards, Wimbledon should really have wrapped the game up by the interval, but time and again players would try to go it alone, when a pass to a supporting player (and there were plenty of them) could have put that player in the clear. As it was, the interception and a late penalty put the visitors 10-0 up at half time.
A good talking-to by coach Nathan Kemp saw a more composed Wimbledon start the second half, and within ten minutes a great drive by the pack ended with lock Matt Lambert touching down for try no.1.
Five minutes later wing Ben Sykes rounded off Dons’ first proper passing movement of the game with no.2. The second midfield mistake put Wells back into a 17-10 lead, but Dons’ second pushover, touched down by skipper Julian Callanan (as ever, leading by example all game) reduced it to two points with ten minutes remaining.
A good Wimbledon scrum, won against the head, quick ball from scrum half James Hayes – who impressed throughout – then a good floated pass from Charlie Jewers (playing his first ever game at no.10) to Richard Finch, and the centre side-stepped his man to score the final, winning try.
Apart from the result, it was encouraging to see the three young newcomers, Jewers, wing Owen Brown and fullback Lewis Gage, acquit themselves so well and show so much potential.
Next the whole team will need to play to its full potential when they play away against second-placed London Irish Amateurs.
March 10, 2011